Tag: betrayal

Hang In There

Hang In There

“Have the kids drove you crazy yet?” she asked. “Absolutely.” I replied.

“Hang in there.”

Those three magic words calmed and reassured me as my coworker with great empathy encouraged me. I didn’t even know I needed to hear that or that it would have the kind of effect it had.

The beauty of those three words strung together is that there are no empty promises or frilly pretenses. It means what it says. “Hang. In. There.”

No one tells you to ‘hang in there’ when things are easy. The very reason for which they’re saying that to you is because things are NOT easy. ‘Hang in there’ means:

  1. You may not have much left to give, but give anyway.
  2. You may be tired, but press anyway.
  3. You may not be noticed, but serve anyway.

The Bible says, So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up or quit” (Galatians 6:9 MSG). Paul is specifically addressing believers and how they engage with other believers and those who do not share their faith. This response is important because it’s not a response to humans, but a response and result of relationship with God.

Paul is teaching the church at Galatia that God does not ignore our efforts, hard work, good intentions, good deeds, etc. While those things are no good in and of themselves to save us, God still recognizes them and responds to them. 

The verses before verse 9 explain a basic principle that most people believe regardless of religious or cultural background. Some call it karma. Some call it ‘energy’ or ‘vibes.’ Some call it the power of positive thinking. We call it many things without fully understanding the weight of it.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reapFor the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life(Galatians 6:7-8).

Basically: whatever you plant, grows. Whatever you put in, you get it back. The beautiful thing about God is when you choose to plant according to His desires, His nature, and His will, you don’t just get back what you put in. You get a HARVEST. You get MORE than what you put in. Unfortunately, some of us feel as if we haven’t seen anything that looks like a harvest.

Some of us are frustrated right now because we don’t feel like our efforts are being noticed by the people we’d like to notice. Some of us feel God doesn’t seem to care about the pain, discomfort, or difficulty we may be walking through. Know this:

The Bible also says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

If there is anything that you take away from this, let it be this: God sees. More importantly for some of us, God sees you. Specifically. Clearly. Lovingly.

So, whatever you’re going through, know that God has a beautiful plan for you. It may not be easy or comfortable; but it’s worth it. God never promised we wouldn’t suffer; though He did promise that He’d always be with us (Deut. 31:6). So, hang in there. Better yet, rest in the One who is holding you.

Friends: How Many of Us Have Them? Pt. 2

Friends: How Many of Us Have Them? Pt. 2

We’re back to dig a little deeper about a subject that is relatively touchy for me. I have found over the years that I feel quite strongly about what friendship is and ought to look like.

I’m that person that is very intentional about which words I use when referring to someone. “Oh, that’s my homeboy Jake.” (I do not have a homeboy named Jake. I’m just saying.) When I say homeboy, I am referring to someone who I get along with, we can have the occasional deep conversation, but we’re not exactly friends.

There are levels to this.

If I had to draw a diagram of some sort, it would look a little something like this:

Diagram From the outer circle to the inner circle, each one represents a function of relationship.

Acquaintance: someone I just met

Associate: someone I know within a particular context (classmate, coworker, etc)

Homie/Homeboy: someone with whom I’ve had more regular contact, deeper conversations, and get along with very well

Friend: someone I trust; and while we’re close, mutually, we’re not in each other’s innermost circle; accountability and support

Best friends: God has mutually equipped us to walk together through life; higher accountability, greater intimacy, have been ‘vetted’ etc.

The levels don’t indicate who’s better. The levels indicate the different functions and purposes of those relationships. What these levels comprise is a support system. For clarification, this does not mean I don’t have intimate moments with acquaintances and associates. I believe transparent moments like that are necessary and important to personal growth.

If you didn’t notice, there wasn’t a circle for me. Friends aren’t there for their worlds to revolve around me. This is something I’ve struggled with from time to time. I’ve learned that it’s not simply about who they can be to you or how they can help you.

Yes. It’s important to know who your friends are and how they function. However, an important question to ask ourselves is, “What kind of friend am I to them? How have I been a support to them?”

For me, it’s often easier to assume I’m not in the wrong. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I ‘classify’ my friends for lack of a better word. I have not spent nearly as much thinking about how I can be better as a friend. “A man of many companions may come to ruin; but there’s a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24)

It’s so easy to read that and begin to think of all the people who don’t fit that description. Today I’m asking myself, “am I a friend who sticks closer than a brother?” Honestly, I do think I’m a good friend; at least I have the potential to be. However, potential means nothing without progress.

Here are some ways I have identified I could be a better friend:

  1. Call when I have nothing to talk about. For us ladies, this can be so difficult. We typically call or text each other to talk about a specific topic. We may call to update each other about our life events.
  2. Give them the benefit of the doubt when they don’t do what you’d like for them to do. This is a really big one for me. I’ve improved, but often my mind begins to wander and I find myself thinking thoughts that are not life-giving.
  3. Keep shorter accounts.  Don’t just wait for them to contact you or a special occasion. Contact them more frequently.
  4. Ask the questions you’re uncomfortable asking. Some questions include, “How can I be a better friend?” “When and how have I acted out of character as of late?”
  5. Be honest when things hurt me. Sometimes we think that just because we’re in a friendship that God put together that hurt or the appearance of betrayal isn’t possible. It very well is. How we deal with the hurt afterwards is what matters. One of the best ways to deal with hurt in that particular area is to be honest and confront those feelings within yourself.

I’m sure there are other ways in which I could improve as a friend. However, we’d be here for a very long time. You may have some reasons you think you could improve as a friend. Share those ideas with a trusted friend and encourage them to hold you accountable.

Remember, friendship is so important. Who you decide to be intimate friends with will dictate your life. So choose wisely. In all of your choosing, don’t forget to be a great choice as well.

When Pain Is Your Mistress

When Pain Is Your Mistress

I don’t always know how to be happy and I’d hazard a guess that I’m not the only one.

Happiness is one of the most elusive concepts humans pursue. Most of the time, we’re mistaken about what will actually make us happy. We get it and are abysmally disappointed. More money, a relationship, new job, influence, power, etc., are just a few things we often believe will bring us happiness. (Mo’ money, mo’ problems).

Interestingly enough, we don’t have to desire things that are inherently bad in order to be disappointed once we get them. The reality is, nothing on this earth could ever or will ever satisfy the longing for fulfillment. Only God can. Some things seem to get really close, but fall short every single time. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t desire things, relationships, money, or influence. Instead, we must remember that in all things, we must ask, ‘why do I want what I want?’

Many of us have no trouble desiring things. For some of us, however, desiring anything good is an arduous task. Life experiences and disappointments have taught us not to expect anything good or for it to last very long. Our inner system of belief begins to tell us, ‘don’t get too attached,’ or ‘don’t get your hopes up.’ These thoughts come when your belief system is being run by doubt and fear.

Pastor Marcus Howard says, “Fear is not an emotion. It is the absence of emotion; because you don’t know what to expect, you fear. Fear is a toxin eating up the core of your belief.” I’ve heard him expound further saying, “fear comes because of a lack of expectation.”  

Our life experiences teach us what to expect or what not to expect. Painful experiences teach us it’s not worth hoping for something better. Sometimes, we become so familiar with our pain, that we forget how to be happy. We forget to receive the joy that’s been given to us through Christ.

Let’s talk about joy and happiness. If you ask a random person, they’ll tell you that joy and happiness are one in the same. I understand from where we get this idea. However, let’s look at Scripture for a second. Many of the verses that mention joy speak of it in spite of something.  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).

We don’t experience joy because things are going well. We experiencing joy whether or not things are going well. Happiness is different. Happiness requires a particular condition. ‘I’m happy because _______.’ This means: if the reason for which I’m happy changes, so does my happiness with it. If I’m happy as long as I’m in a relationship, then the moment I’m single, I cease to be happy.

Joy is different. Joy is an assurance, a steadfastness, being immovable in the knowledge that everything is going to be alright. This kind of joy is only possible through knowledge of the One in whom there is assurance: Christ.

Oddly, joy is more natural than depression, anxiety, worry, doubt, or fear. It’s who God is. When you choose to have relationship with God through Christ, you choose everything that comes with Him. You marry (figuratively and spiritually) yourself to Him and the two of you become one.

Similarly, when you are friends with someone, the two of you begin to share the same vocabulary, ideals, and gestures. When you accept Christ, you begin to share in who He is.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).  What is Christ’s is ours. (What’s mine is yours. What’s your is mine. Marriage.)

Joy is a result of that relationship. Peace is a result of that relationship. Patience is a product of that relationship. Galatians 5:22 says, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” 

Christ teaches that we will go through difficult times (John 16:33). Don’t marry yourself to your pain. It’s not a healthy relationship. It doesn’t serve you the way a husband and wife serve each other in marriage. It only weighs you down. Nevertheless, realize you will experience pain, but remember what the outcome ought to be. It’s there to perfect your faith.

For further study: 2 Timothy 1:7, John 16:33, Romans 8

Happy reading!

Over and out.

 

*I do not own the rights to or the featured photo. I made small edits for the sake of the post.*